Pierre, SD- The 2008 Legislative Session kicked off this week with several bills of interest for cattlemen already in the hopper. For the next couple of months, SDCA leadership will be monitoring legislative activities to safeguard the business interests of our members.
SDCA's legislative priority for the 2008 Session is to ensure the broken market-based approach for valuing ag lands for tax purposes is addressed in a manner that will keep ag producers on the land. Currently, South Dakota ag land assessments utilize a market-based approach to determine the taxable value. HB 1005 will improve the ag land tax assessment system in South Dakota by basing assessed valuations on the land's earning capacity or productivity – an approach used by 43 other states today.
SDSU's Economics Department would compute the eight-year-average price and yield for crop lands and animal carrying capacity for grasslands and each county's Director of Equalization would be able to make adjustments to their county averages to account for variations such as climate, topography, soil type and other factors. Finally, HB 1005 contains a safety net provision that would limit assessment increases to no more than 15 % for three years, repeal the 150% rule, and create an implementation and oversight advisory task force.
“SDCA strongly believes this is a timely and necessary change to our tax system,” said Scott Jones, SDCA President and cattleman from Midland.
“The number of land sales our tax assessors can use for valuing agricultural land continues to dwindle at an alarming rate and ag land prices are skyrocketing at a pace that is difficult to sustain for ag producers paying property taxes,” said Jones. “The the market value of agricultural land reflects many factors other than agricultural land use. Our members believe the landowner should determine the best use for their property and that decision should not be driven by tax policy, so we are supporting the passage of HB 1005.”
Another bill of interest to livestock producers is SB 44, which proposes to revise certain provisions regarding the licensing and regulation of grain dealers and buyers. This bill was introduced at the request of the SD Public Utilities Commission which currently has regulatory oversight for the grain dealer industry.
Unfortunately, in its current form, SB 44 will also significantly impact many livestock producers, particularly livestock feeding operations. SDCA has been told the intent of the legislation is not to adversely impact livestock producers, but the language in the bill raises many questions relative to the regulation of livestock feeding. SDCA is working with other livestock groups to seek an amendment to SB 44 that would exempt grain purchased for livestock feed from grain buyer licensing and bonding requirements.
Jones noted, “At minimum, we believe the many questions raised by SB 44 warrant further dialog between the PUC Commissioners and livestock producers that will be directly impacted.”
In addition to the bills above, SDCA expects to participate in bills relating to a number of other issues including funding for conservation programs, Brand Board issues, weed and pest control, and other topics of interest to cattlemen SDCA encourages cattlemen to contact the SDCA office at 605.945.2333 or log on to our website at www.sdcattlemen.org for more information or to sign up to receive our weekly e-mail bulletin.